Game on: how our Pharmacy students won a dementia awareness competition

First year Pharmacy students Felicia Yew, Jared Loo and Justin Lee recently attended the British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association’s 75th Annual Conference. Their idea for a public health campaign won them first prize in the Lloyds Pharmacy Competition. Here, Justin describes their experience.

Justin, Felicia and Jared
Justin, Felicia and Jared

It was last year that Felicia learnt about the Lloyds Pharmacy Competition to plan a public health campaign to raise awareness of dementia. Felicia gathered Jared and I to form a team and enter the competition.

We figured that we could incorporate the rapid advancement of technology into our proposal to come up with an idea that is unorthodox and interesting to spread the awareness of dementia.

We had a meeting with Dr Jack Rivers-Auty, who inspired us with his research. Dr Jack is currently researching Alzheimer’s disease at The University of Manchester. His research investigates the progression of the disease using the mouse model. What struck us was the notion of using a maze to measure the level of spatial awareness and the memory of the mice.

It was then that we came up with the idea of using a maze as the basis of our game. We designed a game where the players will be able to play as the patient with vascular dementia to find his or her own way home.

During the adventure, Chris will find clues that can lead him to his home. To increase the challenge, we made it so that different sets of clues will lead to a different ending in the game.

The main aims of the game are not just to raise players’ awareness of dementia, but also to develop a sense of empathy in our audience through active gameplay, where they understand the hardships faced by patients living with dementia.

With the proposal done, we submitted it to the judges and went on with our university lives. To our surprise, we got shortlisted to participate in the finals at the British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association Conference in Durham!

We were very grateful that we got the chance to showcase our proposal. It was satisfying to know that our efforts had paid off and that the judges were interested in learning more about our idea. We prepared our presentation and shared our idea with Dr Michael Harte, one of our lecturers. His valuable feedback helped us with our pitching style, and we were really thankful for his help.

With all the preparations done, we were ready to leave for Durham for the 75th BPSA Annual Conference! It was a total shock for me to see so many people with the same passion together, sharing their experience and knowledge with us first year students, the rookies of annual conferences.

Needless to say, we enjoyed the events arranged by the conference committee! The amount of knowledge we gained from participating in the conference was immeasurable. It will definitely help us in our future endeavours.

The Lloyds Pharmacy Competition was set on the third day of the Annual conference, where we were called to present our proposal in front of a panel of judges. We were nervous! Fortunately it went smoothly, and the judges came up with great suggestions to further improve our proposal and make it more beneficial to the public.

To our surprise, we were selected as the winners! We were excited that our idea was complimented as “21st century” and “modern”. We would also like to congratulate the rest of the participants for being shortlisted for the finals. Their creativity was amazing and impressive! Winning or losing is not the most important factor when we manage to learn so much from each other.

Our prize for winning is a visit to Celesio UK, one of the leaders of the pharmacy industry, to spend the day with a senior pharmacist. It’s a great chance for us to further understand the industry and learn what it is actually like being a pharmacist. We will definitely treasure the experience!

We would like to extend our appreciation to Prof Jason Hall, Dr Sally Freeman, Dr David Allison and Ms Suzanne Davies, and to the BPSA for reimbursing our conference tickets and travel costs – we were very grateful for all the support.

Congratulations on your win, Justin, Jared and Felicia!

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